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Everything posted by tradfiddle

  1. Ummm... I think you can change that 'doubt its true' to'shame its not true'. I am not sure if the perpetrators of such scams would be best visited by the police or the caretakers of the local asylum. Notice the dustless artex textured 'hidden room'. Somehow it looks like it has been visited by both a decorator and a cleaner in the past decade. Not to mention the fiddles themselves, the clean white photocopied labels, etc... Oy Oy Oy... Tradfiddle
  2. Ebay is enough to make a man weep sometimes. The fake labels don't even have to be good. Did you see this one last month?: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie...me=STRK:MEWA:IT There seems to be a fresh rash of these poorly labelled false British 18th century violins about (Duke, Banks & Forster). I would love to track down the culprit. I have seen 3 in the past two months. All with the all-caps hand lettered labels. They are put in 19th century German & French instruments. The great 19th century fakers would have loved e-bay! Regards, Tradfiddle
  3. Dear Derek McCormick, I apologise for my over simplification of your and Mr.Topham's expertise. I have been rather at the mercy of popular press accounts which have implied these levels of expertise for the different individuals involved. You will notice that I set out in my posts in this forum to defend dendrochronology. The 'fiasco' has been implied by the press for quite some time and even in 'professional' websites. I am a frequent contributor to, and reviewer for, Journal of Archaeological Science over the past 10+ years. However, just because something makes it into a peer-reviewed journal does not mean it is God's Truth. One is always best off to read any publication with a sceptical eye. Publications are out there to be challanged and improved upon. Regards, Tradfiddle
  4. Hello all, For some relevant info on Dendrochronology and useful links on the topic see: http://www.carleton.ca/catalyst/2003/s4.html Regards, Tradfiddle
  5. The problem with the Messiah fiaco is that is was done in a half-a**ed way from the start. A dendro amateur (Pollens)took photos which he handed on to a dendro professional (Klein), who did the best he could with poor data. It was then measured by another dendro amateur (Topham) in a better way and handed on to another dendro professional (McCormick) for an opinion. When finally a dendro professional (Grissino-Mayer) did the job from start to finish we got a result which squared with the second (better) attempt. This does not cast doubt on dendrochronology -- it just shows that a professional should have done the job in the first place. Hammer worship and expert worship are both problematic. Regards, tradfiddle
  6. La Folia- I agree completely Michael Darnton -- It is very true that dating is not an end in itself, but it is an important new point of reference when evaluating an instrument. When radiocarbon began it was only used experimentally on a few sites. When some results did not agree with the received wisdom of the 'old typological masters' people at first chose to cast doubt on the dating technique rather than the old interpretations. Today, few people take an archaeological analysis of any given site or assemblage seriously unless it is associated with excellent radiometric dating. I suspect that the same will soon come to pass with $10k+ violins... Regards, Tradfiddle
  7. In a related note.... http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/12/08...rius.secret.ap/ Check out the link above. Was the golden age of violin making all down to the wood? p.s. Stylistic dating is a real bugbear in archaeology. Much material culture, which was confidently attributed to specific periods on stylsitic grounds in the pre-radiocarbon era, has now been drastically re-dated. (Most) Archaeologists would not claim they do not need radiocarbon dates because there own stylistic judgement was infallible. It reminds me of a debate I had with a curator of one of New Yorks major art museums a few years ago regarding the looting of archaeological sites. He claimed that provenance was not vital for establishing the context of an item, because art historians could place it in time and space stylistically. I suppose we could all just build humanities past on the basis of some near-omnipotent notion of personal authority, but personally, I would prefer to use contextual and dating evidence in trying to understand the past of an object. Dendrochronology will open new windows on the past of musical instruments. I look forward to its results. Regards, Tradfiddle
  8. As a professional archaeologist I would like to speak out on this one. Dendrochronology is not an 'emerging technique', it is the single most accurate dating technique available. Period. Dendro has allowed the callibration of the radiocarbon curve (essential for all radiometric dates to give 'real' age estimates). The chronology of the American Southwest's prehistory, for example, is anchored on dendro dates of wood charcoal alone. Most early buildings in the UK have their age range fixed by dendro dates. As much as I am a 'fiddle fancier', I find it laughable that the 'experts' somehow hold their stylistic opinions to be more sound than a technique based on more than a half-century of solid research by hundreds of dedicated scientists. Dendro is only an 'emerging technique' in the violin field. In other -- dare I say it -- much more vital fields (including climate history), it has a proven track record. Regards, Tradfiddle
  9. Writing as someone who grew up in America and then moved to Europe in young adulthood, I believe that technology might seem more all-triumphant in the USA than it does in Europe. There is a good deal of scepticism here about technological progess which manifests itself in the Green movement, for example. Another contrast is the strength of enthusiasm for 'ancient/early music' here which I do not see reflected at the same level in the States. Also, remember that from the outset 'art music' (whether Baroque, Classical, Romantic, etc...) has never held great popularity with the masses. During the 18th century most people were dancing to what we now term 'folk music'. Today they dance to 'house music' with all the trappings of hi-tech. Meanwhile 'art music' trundles on in the same old way with a small but elite audience (though perhaps more intellectually than financially elite these days). 'Art music' is an inherently conservative tradition (for good or ill) and I do not think its gates will be broken down in the next few centuries by an influx of electrified instruments. People started trying that in the heady days of the 60s and 70s and it fell flat. There was one electric violin concert at the Proms this year, but I will be very surprised if there is more than one next year. Fear not! When you can still fill the Albert Hall with a 17th century wooden box (as most performers did) all is not lost! Regards, Tradfiddle
  10. http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie...757656&rd=1 Have a look at this one folks. I have refrained from tagging Ebay howlers up till now, but this one I just could not resist. Unless this was revarnished in the late 19th century when all of that nasty 'red varnish that goes black' was kicking around Germany, this is not a 'barrock' violin. Perhaps he/she is trying to say that it is a 'broke' violin... and the label -- it must be a joke, right??? Have fun, Tradfiddle
  11. There are a few UK luthiers currently making excellent Quentins. One of these is Robert Thornhill who is based out of the Beament/Barker Violin making school in Cambridge. I would not hold your breath on electronic instruments out-stripping acoustic ones. In the 1980s I was at the 'cutting-edge' of electronic music, composing artsy film scores with analog synthesizers and digital samplers. You will notice that in recent years their use has faded somewhat in the film industry (and though no longer involved in that field I don't even play them anymore, playing acoustic instruments in preference). Look at the ongoing popularity of Historically Informed Performance and World Music -- the trend is going in the opposite direction. Regards, Tradfiddle
  12. Even though Spohr invented the chin rest in the 1830s, they were not 'universally' adopted until the early 20th century (if you have a chance to see photos of violinists/fiddlers from the mid to late 19th century you will see what I mean). Even then, many chin rests were mere crescent shaped slivers of wood that gave you something to hold onto when down-shifting. Most modern chin rest shapes came into existence in the 1910s and 1920s (look at the adverts in Strad magazine from the 1890s-1900s -- it was another world). So its not just Baroque performers of the past and present who do not use chin rests, most Classical performers and many Romantic-era violinists either did not use them, or used things which we today would not consider chin rests. Look at Elizabeth Wallfisch's tips on playing without a chinrest in the September 2004 STRAD magazine. Regards, Tradfiddle
  13. tradfiddle

    Fine tuners

    Hill fine tuners are by far the best in that they probably have no impact on sound -- but you are then restricted in the types of E you can use (i.e. loop end required for it to look decent). The Wittner tailpieces with integrated tuners are ugly as sin. Whenever I acquire a violin with one on it comes right off. Call me a techno-phobe, but I prefer wooden tailpieces. Though I can see the Wittner tailpieces application for beginners, even my seven year old son can tune his 3/4 violin successfully with a wooden tailpiece and fine tuners only on the A and E. Regards, Tradfiddle
  14. tradfiddle

    Bow Weight?

    One good way of proceeding when selecting bows is to try 'blind' a number of pre-weighed bows and sort them into your perceived weight categories. You will subsequently be amazed to find that some of those which felt lighter are in fact heavier in weight. I adjudge such bows as being well balanced, and they make the cut for the next round of selection. Also, it should be stressed that lighter bows tend to produce a better tone on pure gut strings (so there is a use for them!). It is not an accident that most surviving baroque and classical period bows are fairly light (e.g violin bows 48-54g). Regards, Tradfiddle
  15. The problem with the term 'fiddler' is that it has a long history of being used in a pejorative sense in English, like 'he just fiddles about', 'fiddling while Rome burns', 'he fiddled the books'. To some extent this negative association goes back to pre-Enlightenment England when any sort of 'fiddler/violinist' was seen as being a pretty fast, lose, and low character. Over the past two centuries of course there has been an increasingly 'stylistic' use of the term to contrast those of the 'Classical' school and those of all other violinistic endeavours (from Klezmer, to Cajun, to Scots/Irish, etc.). However, I would not draw this distinction between those who play by the mainstream classical rules regarding bow & fiddle grip and those who hold them differently -- else Classicists would have to divorce themselves from most pre-1850s 'violinists', who gripped their bows in diverse ways (as well as their fiddles!). Vive la difference! Regards, Tradfiddle
  16. Yes thats right, I have seen 'copie de' labels in three of these instruments -- all followed with an early Italian makers name that does not at all correspond with the model of the instrument! We are certainly seeing the same thing here in the UK -- can any US users tell us whether they have also seen these in the States? The Salzard instrument from the mid-nineteenth century that I mentionned above was also branded on the back button 'Salzard', though I have seen both branded and unbranded instruments of this type. I suspect that these 'imitation old' instruments were made for several decades (given the date of the Salzard instrument, the fact the genuine wear on some instruments I have seen would place them squarely in the 19th century, and I have seen some very fresh ones for which a 1920s date would seem appropriate). How long did JTL keep trading in such instruments I wonder? The antiquing fad has far from died out. One Belgian maker is antiquing Chinese instruments he buys in the white for sale as 'copies', Paesold does an antiqued line, and there are other more 'high brow' makers who advertise in The Strad these days with 'antiqued' instruments. Any comments from anyone on the entire antiquing trend and its history? Regards, tradfiddle
  17. I believe sometimes it is healthy to challenge orthodoxy and to be aware of the transience of musical tradition. There has been a big move towards homogeneity (or at least a sort of bifurcated homogeneity if one includes the HIP movement) in the 20th-21st century(ies). People tend to forget that even in the 1890s the only wrapped string was the G, chin rests were optional, fine tuners & shoulder rests did not exist and vibrato was not even ubiquitous in the 'mainstream'. How many of us have listened to the 'great makers' set up in the late 19th century - let alone the 18th century -- manner? The drastic change in string tension (and character) will have interacted differently with different instruments. It is inevitable that some models might work better in this way than with the modern set-up. Whether one has or has not ever played a 'real' Cremona or Stainer, good 18th century copies with more arching sound better to me with gut strings than instruments with flatter arching. Hence I find most of what has been written by the gentleman from the Cape to be entirely sensible. Its nothing to do with nationalism. If so, I'd be arguing that British violins are best... And romanticism, well, not so much that as defending the underdog and wondering a bit about the entire Strad mythos... Regards, tradfiddle
  18. Quote: Well, it wasn't locked, and I can say now that when I try to play without a chinrest or a shoulder pad, my violin slips right out of my neck, and onto the floor, if not that I catch it with my left hand. So it's certainly not possible to shift downwards with my left hand. Staylor -- if you ever have the opportunity please watch Andrew Manze play. No shoulder rest, no chin rest, and he can still play the pants off of most contemporary violinists. Hey... why not lock this thread and start a NO CHIN REST thread Regards, tradfiddle
  19. Having followed this and the other Stainer thread, I would just like to state that the deification of the Strad as 'the alpha and omega' of violins which crystallised in the late nineteenth century is mildly irrational -- and certainly was not even unanimous at the time. The late 19th c. Scottish violinist William Honeyman for example (who had played originals of most of the great early makers) ranked them as follows: 1. Gaspara da Salo, 2. Maggini, 3. Guarnerius, 4.Stradivarius, 5. Amati. Of course the poor Stainer does not even place in Honeyman's list. But I think we should be less bewitched by the Hill's and keep an open mind to the qualities of different models. Personally - though I have never even knowingly HELD originals of any of these makers -- I have played their 'models' and (for traditional gut string set-up) I too prefer the Amati and Stainer patterns. Regards, tradfiddle
  20. Yes the quality seems pretty variable, and the chemical treatment they went through cannot have been very good for them, but they are interesting because they seem to form a category of work yet you don't see people talking about them much. I wonder if this 'movement' derives from Vuillaume's early work (ca. 1820's-40's) at antiquing instruments with chemical treatments and even adding fake woodworm holes, or whether the French fiddle-antiquing trade predates Vuillaume? The US National Museum seems to have a datable instrument in this category in their collection: NMM 9965 'Violin by Salzard workshop, Paris or Mirecourt, ca.1840-75' "Back: one piece, quarter cut maple with narrow curl, ascending from treble to bass... Varnish: dark brown; artificial shading, varnish partially removed, simulated wear on each side of the tailpiece, lower and centre bouts of the back, at upper treble edge of the back, and on the upper treble rib,. Varnish also removed from edges of scroll and pegbox chamfers." So, for me, the question really is, when did artificial aging begin in France and where does this 'one piece back, incised purfling' category of violins fall within this time frame? The instrument in the NMM is signed by a known maker and thus dates to the mid-19th c. Opinions? Thanks, tradfiddle
  21. They are all useful, but the best hands down is "The British Violin: 400 years etc..." by the BVMA which features large colour photos of many instruments and the sort of detail needed by luthiers and collectors. The downside is that it is pretty dear (£195 new last time I checked!). Regards, tradfiddle
  22. Hi, I've got a copy of Morris (1920 edition) and it is very much worth having. Jeffrey James Gilbert of Peterborough (Cambridgeshire) was born in 1850. His violins won Gold or Silver medals at the British Exhibitions of 1884, 1885, and 1890. He was VERY highly thought of by Morris, viz "the outline of each of [his] models are very pure... the sound holes are Stradivarian in character and cut with extreme delicacy... varnish... brilliant, elastic, and transparent, the tone is of a beautiful quality, etc...". A very good write up indeed (and Morris could be brutal). His violin model was original. Measurements: lob: 14 inches, width across upper bouts: 6 1/2, middle 4 3/8, lower 8 inches. Length of F's 3 1/16th. Hope this helps! Unfortunately there is no other listing of Gilbert in Morris. Another Gilbert in one of the indices on my shelf = Nicholas-Louis Gilbert (luthier in Metz, France, 1701-06). Regards, tradfiddle
  23. Hello all, This is my first post on this forum, so please be gentle with me! There is a certain category of 'workshop/factory' fiddle that I have been encountering here in the UK which I would like further information on, if any of you have seen the like. These are 19th century violins with incised purfling, on the Stainer or Amati model, with fatigued varnish from the start, some sort of chemical antiquing treatment (rendering the exposed wood grey-brown). They always have one piece backs. They show the capability for good work (nice matching f-holes, good necks), but with idiosyncratic bits of 'primitiveness' (tool marks left on the scroll, gouges in the bass bar where visible from the f-hole, but not elsewhere on the bass bar, etc.). In colour the varnish is a reddish brown (fairly handsome, and not like early 20th century German/Czech more purely reddish varnish). The ones I have seen are all very much 'of a type'. Some bear false labels, others have wax seals on the neck heels and Mirecourt French makers labels (which I believe are correct). They seem to hang together as a group a bit like the 1880s German violins of Mittenwald. Have any of you encountered such instruments, and do you have a notion of their approximate date or any information about them? Regards, tradfiddle UK
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